FOREIGN Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah owes the Malaysian diplomatic fraternity an explanation if it is indeed true that two senior diplomats in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were ordered home and put in cold storage for what is deemed as a “lack of official guest status” for Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s who made a short trip to Dubai last month.
To re-cap, Ismail Sabri stopped over Dubai on March 29 on his return from a three-day official visit to Qatar to witness several signings of memorandum of understandings (MOUs) which are intended to enhance economic ties between UAE and Malaysia.
Accompanied by Saifuddin, the PM’s entourage was met upon arrival at the Al Maktoum International Airport by the Malaysian ambassador to UAE Datuk Mohd Tarid Sufian and Consul-General of Malaysia in Dubai Mohd Hasril Abdul Hamid.
Citing knowledgeable sources, Free Malaysia Today (FMT) said there were no top UAE officials present, unlike the usual protocol when a senior minister of the host country to be officially assigned to receive foreign dignitaries.
As the “sombre welcome” was not befitting that of a PM’s status, sources told FMT that both Tarid and Hasril are now assigned to a pool of civil servants in the public service department in Putrajaya, in essence placed in a cold storage where officers falling out of favour are sent to pending their next move.
While it is not known if Ismail Sabri is aware of Tarid and Hasril’s recall, sources told FMT that senior officials in the Foreign Ministry were fuming over the treatment of the two diplomats.
One source revealed that the ambassador (Tarid) had informed Wisma Putra about the UAE Government’s reservation on the timing of Ismail’s visit but it was not heeded.
The UAE Government had apparently told the Malaysian mission that this was not a suitable time for an official visit in view of the hundreds of VIPs coming from all over the world daily for the Dubai World Expo 2020 which ran from Oct 1, 2021 to March 31 this year.
The annual trade gathering is a huge global event postponed from last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Wisma Putra or the Foreign Minister should have advised the PM to reschedule his visit. This is a major flaw as it involves diplomacy and the reputation of the government,” a source said.
Another source told FMT that senior officials are particularly incensed with the Foreign Minister for not defending his officers from such an action.
“Of course their official reply will be that it is a normal transfer and has nothing to do with the PM’s visit. But the staff won’t buy it,” he added. – April 11, 2022